HSC Featured in The New Journal: The Magazine about Yale & New Haven

Civics class

High School in the Community

Thursday morning

The students in Justin Scully’s third-period civics class at High School in the Community, a New Haven public school on [Water] Street, laugh more on November 10 than they did on November 9. The day after Donald Trump’s election, both Carolyn Martinez and Vartaysha Reed cried during class. Today, though, the juniors have a test on the foundations of the US government—the Virginia Plan, the Articles of Confederation, a bonus question of who’s on the ten dollar bill—and the tears are gone. Morning light floods through the windows onto the linoleum floor. Before Scully passes out the test, I ask the class a few questions about how they’re feeling.

Tyron Huston sits in the center row of the desks and remembers the previous day. “Justin was really depressed,” he says, smirking. Scully nods. Martinez jumps in to say that she is terrified, and others assent. The students—none of whom are old enough to vote—used to joke about Trump’s campaign, but the humor is different now. It’s more exhausted. A placeholder for resignation.

Scully cuts through the chatter to point out Laurel Cubellotti, the class’s only Trump supporter. She reluctantly reports that she’s happy with the results, tacking on a bashful “sorry” and a shrug. She doesn’t seem victorious. “I’m actually really shocked,” she says. “When he won, I didn’t know what to do.” Scully adds that Trump’s New York hotel, which he has visited, is, in fact, nice. (Reed retorts that her grandmother has been there, too, “and she says it’s trash.”)

The students move on, discussing a recount, whether Bernie Sanders might have defeated Trump, and the rumor that fourteen thousand Americans voted for the slain gorilla Harambe. When Scully passes out the tests, things quiet down. Now, they have to remember how many states had to ratify the Bill of Rights. When backpacks start zipping closed an hour later, Scully reminds them about their upcoming essay on John Locke. The bell rings.

– Elena Saavedra Buckley